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tv   The Presidency  CSPAN  November 23, 2014 8:00pm-8:50pm EST

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what hit them. he hit them at many different levels. he basically brought them to their needs. upyou could sum all of that in a simple phrase, which he used. that is "he's through strength --"peace through strength." he was willing to negotiate with the soviets once
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it was hard to picture many presidents doing that >> is the first american palm
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where a self-inflicted gunshot wound is the centerpiece of the poem. it is disturbing. train the modern condition. the trouble that people have which they hide -- train the modern condition. the trouble the people have in which they hide. loneliness, people unwilling to's show it. , so theying to show it hide behind a mask. despite the fact that they have wealth. despite the fact that they have -- that they are handsome or above anybody else in many ways. deep within themselves they can be in a happy -- be unhappy. at theophe follows them end of their lives. so this is a very serious kind
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of a poem. it is not a lighthearted, fun-loving poem. roosevelt was an expert reader and appreciated the craftsmanship and the all that robinson was able to capture regarding this character. this type of person who hides behind the mask. robinson stayed in the customs house as long as roosevelt was president. and when he left the white house , of course, in 1909, he had to leave the customs house. friend, hetter to a wrote "my chief concern is a fear that i might turn out a disappointment to my friends and
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to tr, who must be wondering how long it takes a man to write 100 pages of verse." bookhe did write another of poetry which he published immediately after he left the customs house. this is a book of poetry called ,"he town down the river published in 1910. it is dedicated to the it or roosevelt. in fact if you had a chance to look at the book of poetry, there are two poems. one at the m. the first one is about -- one at thebeginning, and one at end. the first one is about abraham lincoln and it is called the master, and the other one is about theodore roosevelt. these two poems stand in the book like monuments. bookends to the poems that are -- heween that both men
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creates the two of them, lincoln menroosevelt -- as powerful who shape the nation and point us towards the future. in sizes are identical and shape, they both have eight lines in each stanza, they both have the same rhyme schemes. so he is obviously equating lincoln with roosevelt as the two greatest presidents from his point of view. always wondered if he had fulfilled the wish that roosevelt had for him. ,e wrote to kermit roosevelt's's in 1913. he wrote "i don't like to think it had should be now if not been for your astonishing father. he fished me out of hell by the
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hair on my head. it's so enabled me to get my last book together and in all probability to get it published. i hope sincerely that i have made him understand that i know this." believed in the importance of literature for the progress of american culture. he took active steps to promote pro-chief -- promote poetry and poets when he could. of his efforts and on behalf of arlington robinson, he promoted that using publications, early poems written by george cabot lodge and other young poets at the time. and at the time roosevelt wrote the introduction to a two volume set to his largest poems. in 1915, roosevelt arrange for bliss carmen,amed
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so hed modest employment, could "save the discredit from having a man like him die of want." when the widow of a minor wrote about his death, roosevelt sent money from his own pocket, and persuaded andrew carnegie, of all people, to do the same. well, he was a rare individual. a man of power and action who d a deep love of poetry. not only was he a president worthy of his image carved in to standmount rushmore forever between jefferson and lincoln, but he also found time ,n a busy life to read poetry to write about the value and the importance of poetry for american culture, and to use his
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wealth and influence to support careers of 20th century american poets. thank you very much. [applause] thank you. if anybody has any questions or observations or comments that they would like to make, anything i could flush out for you, i would be happy to do so. yes? >> as much as he loved to read it, did he write any? >> no he did not write poetry. was, as much as he loved to read poetry, did he ever happened to write poetry? poetry,d not write any
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although he was a great reader. although there were other president who did write poetry. in my book, "poetry and the american presidency," there are several who wrote poetry. adamsticular, john quincy was a great writer of poetry, uhh --m lincoln, umm, jimmy carter wrote poetry. ronald reagan wrote a poem. but not teddy roosevelt. did you have a question? >> yes, i was just curious. how long did it take -- over what. did it take to carve not rushmore? [laughter] >> rushmore, that is a good question!
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borman who did it was named gulam. i think it took him like 20 years to do it. his family is now trying to of an indiane onief -- crazy horse! -- another location on the same mountain, and it is going on in it is not finished yet. it took a great deal of time, no doubt. yes? question back there? in the back? deal ofthere is a great poetry in the bible. there are occasions for reading and referring to the poetry. >> i am sorry, i missed the question? quote the bible
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for poetry? did he read a lot of the bible during his tenure? >> did he read the bible? >> oh! yes! yes he did. he did read the bible in his presidency. as well as other presidents, and the bible is full of great poetry. particularly in the old testament, the psalms for example. and many presidents read them and continue to read them, not only for their spiritual messages but also for the song of those poems. yes indeed, he did. yes? >> i have a story in regard to the poem richard cory -- "richard cory." it was one of my husband's favorite. -- favorites.
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he could site it in its entirety. in his last few days he lost the power of speech. but i got a book out and i read it to -- and i would read it to them, and whenever i would get couldchard cory," he recite along with me even though he had lost the ability to speak. is an, "richard cory," extremely powerful poem. it with a suicide is such an unexpected ending to that poem that it is disturbing. it just enters your conscious like able to lightning, doesn't it? so yeah, it is a wonderful poem. yeah. yes? -- how did you get started and decide to study the connection between presidents and poetry?
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the question is, how did i get started on this project? about tenures ago i was asked to edwinan essay on arlington robinson for a collection of essays on him. and so in the process of preparing that essay, i had to do a lot of research on robinson. i came upon this book review that i mentioned was written by president theodore roosevelt. and i was so surprised by that. takinght, a president time out to write a book review of poetry? it seems so out of character! especially him! quite get my mind around that. so i finish the essay on robinson and then i went back and i did more research on roosevelt to find out what was going on. and as i read about roosevelt, i started to uncover all of this
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foundation about him and he was a lover of poetry. i was stunned by it. and so that i wrote an essay on that. and then i thought i was finished with it. but then i started to recall that i have read somewhere that abraham lincoln had britain poems -- had written poems. and then i thought, hmmmm. and then i found out that jimmy carter had written poetry, and then thomas jefferson had probably written poetry because he had done everything into likely. so i started researching all of the presidents. and sure enough, i came up with 18 of them who had some degree of involvement in literature and in poetry. and then suddenly i realized i had a story that no one had ever written about before! and i thought this was an interesting story. so then i put together all of
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these essays i wrote and then i ended up with this book. it was a good deal of research, of course. yes? the question back there? are those presidents who wrote poetry, did their poetry or the their experiences times which they govern, or on they totally different topics and subject matters? >> very interesting question. the question is, did the poetry that the presidents wrote -- excuse me -- reflect their time, their lives, their conditions as president, and so on. and actually the answer is yes to all of those, in fact. quincy adams, for example, who wrote more poetry than any other president -- over 350 , ins -- two books of poetry
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fact an epic, epic poem of over 2000 versus, john quincy adams wrote while he was in office, and he lived as -- you know, he was a second generation adams, so he was raised to be conscious of doing good work for a growing .epublic the early american nation that we were. so he had 50 years of public , you know, as president, as congressman, as ambassador, many, many positions that he held in government. for 50 years, yet he wished that he could have been remembered as a poet. poetry was important to him. and he wrote, as i say, over 350
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poems, and he loved literature so much that he wished to enter the pantheon of authors and be remembered for that, rather than for his public service. psalms ford take example, from the old testament, and rewrite them into english verse so that they would rhyme. abraham lincoln wrote poetry. it reflects his -- his first analogy -- his personality. he had a great heart for the common man and the common person, he had a great feeling for the ordinary people, and he wrote poems like that. they speak about those characters -- characteristics. wilsondent like woodrow would be very surprising, another surprising story. we think of wilson as a very
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serious man, of course, you know he struggled for peace after world war i and try to establish the league of nations and to bring harmony and peace to the world. limericks!loved if you could imagine that! and he would recite them constantly. he had so many limericks in fact the people thought he wrote the limericks. we are not sure, he may have written some of them, in fact. it is very difficult to trace the authors of limericks because because so many -- there are so many of them and there are so many words. him to is an avenue for let off steam, so to speak. to let loose a little bit from his trials and tribulations as a politician and as a person in government. so there are many different approaches.
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jimmy carter, for example, wrote a wonderful book of poetry, called "always a reckoning." it reflects the man. the good man that he is and the life that he has led, and his insights into the world around him and into the life of the south, for example, where he came from. and some of the contradictions of life in the south. he captures those things in and he talks about his politics, too, in poetry. things,in all of those presidents wrote poetry also did that. ok. well, thank you very much, i appreciate your attention!
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[applause] hei wanted to point out that has some copies of his books over here on the table if anybody would like to look at that. i thought he was going to bring a whole bunch and this was all he had left! so if you're interested in seeing the book, you may want to take a look at it tonight. thank you very much for coming, and thank you so very much. [applause] >> you are watching american history tv, 48 hours of programming on american history every weekend on c-span3. follow us on twitter on cspanhistory on


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